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Friday, August 26, 2011. Williams Lake BC: The Tsilhqot’in National Government today called on the Federal government to halt the continuous drain on everyone’s time and resources and to reject Taseko Mines Ltd’s (TML) second rebid for the Prosperity Mine project.
“If the Canadian government wants to reduce its deficit, then cancel this process. It will prevent the frivolous spending of tax money consistently being wasted to review a mine that will not go through,” said TNG Tribal Chair Chief Joe Alphonse. “Today’s announcement by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency merely finds that the company has finally completed their project description up to the point where a next step could be considered. The fact remains that this bid, which was presented to the previous Expert Panel and deemed worse than the original plan, fails to address any of the environmentally scathing issues that led to the first proposal being rejected,”
“Surrounding our sacred lake with an open pit mine, preventing access to it for 33 or more years, destroying its fish spawning grounds and most likely destroying the lake later as it receives toxic tailings or the mine expands is clearly not an improvement,” said Marilyn Baptiste, Chief, Xeni Gwet’in.
Chief Alphonse and Chief Baptiste ask Prime Minister Stephen Harper to honourably stand by the leadership his government demonstrated in November last year when it emphatically rejected the original mine proposal and showed that while mining is important, it cannot be supported at any cost. The Chiefs noted that the rebid option now before the CEAA is one that the company itself declared last year would be worse for the environment than the original plan – a point echoed in the CEAA review panel report, which then Environment Minister Jim Prentice called “scathing” and “probably the most condemning” he had ever read.
The only major change is that instead of killing Teztan Biny outright, it would render it inaccessible, destroy the smaller adjacent lake that is essential to its self contained wild trout ecosystem, and leave open the option of killing the lake later during the proposed extended 33-year lifetime of the mine. The plan does not address the impact on endangered grizzly-bear and their habitat and in no way removes the irreversible damage to current and future First Nations title and rights, including archaeological and cultural sites.
“At this very moment the Tsilhqot’in are in the middle of the salmon season, blessed with the Chilko salmon run – one of North America’s strongest remaining runs,” said Chief Alphonse. “We cannot imagine risking this irreplaceable resource, which would be threatened by the toxic mine discharge. Everyone from commercial fishermen to the Cohen Commission should be standing with us to protect this resource.”
The Tsilhqot’in Nation is concerned that proceeding further with this rebid will detract from efforts to pursue more sustainable developments in the region, the sustainable developments that BC Mines Minister Rich Coleman earlier this year said was his new priority. Chief Baptiste noted: “The company has not cleaned up the mess it made when drilling and testing for its original bid and we do not support even more damage while this is a clearly pointless rebid.”
There is solid, national opposition to this project from First Nations along with people from all walks of life. The Assembly of First Nations Chiefs in Assembly last month passed its second resolution renewing its 2010 pledge to help defend Tsilhqot’in lands against this project and cautioning the federal government against approving this project. “It would be irresponsible if Mr. Harper’s government did not appropriately consider the environment and its constitutional and international obligations to safeguard First Nations rights,” said Chief Baptiste.
Chief Joe Alphonse (250-305-8282)
Chief Marilyn Baptiste (250-267-1401)
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